Over the past year or so there has been a real change in sport, focussing on how to warm up properly. ACC Sportsmart has done a fantastic job educating sportspeople across the country, and the success is evident when you attend trainings and game days, with players and clubs really picking it up.
Honestly, you’d be silly to not do it. By following the new programme, players teams and clubs can expect a reduction in injuries of 30% and in severe injuries of around 50%.
The challenge, however, is how do you get kids to do it as well. If you’ve spent any time working with children's sports teams you’ll understand how difficult it can be to get them to do anything. This is why New Zealand Football has been hard at work helping to develop a programme that specifically works for kids (14 years and under). The programme is fun (so kids enjoy themselves and don’t see it as a chore) and aims to help younger players to learn to move well. This should help them both be a better player and make it less likely to become injured. And, as a result, they should enjoy the game more! When done regularly the 11+ Kids has been shown to reduce the risk of injury by about half, much like the adult version.
While the programme was designed and validated in football, it is applicable to any sport that involves running and frequent changes of direction – like netball, touch rugby and rugby.
The 11+ kids programme incorporates exercises that are age appropriate and fun for kids to perform. The programme focuses on three key areas:
The exercises include forward rolls, crab walking and jumping. In total there are seven exercises (each with varying levels of difficulty). The exercises are progressed relative to the age and ability of the group. Once a player can perform a given movement over several different trainings, they can move to the next level of difficulty. Like the adult version of the 11+, the kids’ version is also designed to be done as a warm-up before football. It is however substantially faster to perform (taking about five minutes in total to complete).